Diary of a Wimpy Kid evokes strong emotions for a lot of people. For elementary and middle school students it tends to bring about happiness and a joy of reading. For parents, caregivers, and teachers I often see it bring a cringey look to their faces. As a librarian, I’m here to say... “Please read Wimpy Kid!” And please read other similar books, like Timmy Failure Mistakes Were Made, Big Nate, Dork Diaries, The Tapper Twins Go to War (with Each Other), or The Last Kids on Earth.
I feel there is a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to chapter books that have pictures. Having pictures does not mean it is easier to read. You have to gather information from both the written text and the illustrations. Without one or the other the story just wouldn’t make sense. Often these hybrid novels (a cross between a traditional novel and a graphic novel) have a higher reading level than they are given credit. There is a lot of really great vocabulary that kids are exposed to, as well as kids are able to learn social emotional skills be reading about how the characters are feeling and seeing the illustrations depict those emotions. Both of which help make kids smarter!
So why are books like Wimpy Kid so appealing to kids? It’s because they can relate to the characters on a real level. Greg’s not the coolest kid in school. He does dorky kid things and has everyday kid problems. Timmy Failure makes mistakes and learns to own up to his shortcomings. Nikki Maxwell has drama with other girls in her school. The character’s lives reflect the lives of the children reading the stories. It helps kids realize they are not alone and that other kids go through the same things they do. It’s a reflection of themselves and that’s what kids need to see. Diary of a Wimpy Kid and other hybrid novels also bring a sense of happiness and joy to kids as they read. And when kids get joy out of reading it helps build the foundation for them to become lifelong readers, setting themselves up for a more successful future.
So please, please, please read Diary of A Wimpy Kid.